Georgia, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska Complete Consumer Innovation Challenge

Kory Mertz | March 29, 2013

In an effort to help consumers and patients get and use their own health information, the states of Georgia, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska took up an ONC challenge to implement innovative approaches to enable consumer-mediated exchange and open up patients’ access to their medical records.  Their innovative consumer engagement initiatives can be found at HealthIT.gov.

Research shows that patients who are engaged in their own healthcare have better outcomes and health IT is an important tool in helping patients’ access their personal health information.

ONC has a number of efforts underway to enhance patient engagement, including:

  • Expanding the use of Blue Button to all patients through their providers and health plans,
  • Highlighting that Medicare beneficiaries can already access their Medicare records online, and
  • A  HHS partnership with the Veterans Administration and more than 450 different organizations to make health care information available to patients and health plan members through Blue Button.

ONC’s Consumer Innovation Challenge

In an effort to help providers meet the goals of better engaging their patients in their health care, ONC launched the Consumer Innovative Challenge with State Health Information Exchange Grantees. The states of Georgia, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska worked on different consumer engagement initiatives:


ChathamHealthLink is a local health information exchange that serves the uninsured and indigent population of southeast Georgia, and they plan to partner with the Georgia State Health Information Exchange Direct project to provide patient access to lab results through the use of a personal health record (PHR).


The Indiana State Health information Exchange partnered with the Indiana State Department of Health developed a portal to allow patient access to vaccine history records for individuals or their dependents.


HealthShare Montana, through a PHR, made personal health information more readily available to patients to improve consumer engagement and self-management.


The Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NeHII) is working to allow patients to access their health information electronically from NeHII and download it to a PHR, enabling a myriad of innovative uses and applications for consumers.

Patient Access to Health Information:  Lessons Learned

The simple, unifying concept linking these projects—to increase the ability for patients to access information when and where they need it—allows us to identify some common lessons that apply to developing any initiative that could help to put patients in control of their data.

1.  Patient-mediated exchange is a win-win for all stakeholders.

  • In Nebraska, the ability for consumers to download information via Blue Button helps providers attain Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.
  • In Georgia, Chatham’s “Connect with Direct” project is making laboratory results available to providers through the health information exchange, but it is also available to consumers, which decreases the need for providers to manage individual portals and provides the opportunity for a partnership between consumer and provider, laying the groundwork for a more engaged patient.
  • These applications provide incentives and benefits to a variety of stakeholders, not only to the consumer.

2.  Successful products serve a need within the population.

  • MyVaxIndiana was successful because it met a widespread recognized need for electronic access to immunization history.
  • Georgia specifically targeted the underserved population because of the increased likelihood of patients to be seen by multiple different providers and facilities within the network.

3.  Consumer demand can drive adoption:

  • In Indiana, the MyVaxIndiana application served as a tool to encourage physicians to participate in the immunization registry system. When consumers learned they could access their immunization information any time on the Web, they asked their physicians to participate—proving that consumers have the power to drive adoption when presented with an application with value to them.
  • Not only has consumer enthusiasm for electronic access to information grown out of MyVaxIndiana’s success, it has also increased interest and momentum for building new applications supported by the HIE infrastructure. The Indiana CIC project team is discussing ways the MyVaxIndiana technical framework could be used and expanded across the state.

The accomplishments achieved by Georgia, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska highlight the value gained by including the consumer as a central figure in health information exchange and the beneficial effect of providing consumers access to the sustainability of HIE initiatives. Their accomplishments also  provide other HIEs with proven programs that can be used to fit their patients’ and providers’ needs.

To learn more about the State Health Information Exchange Grantee near you, visit: http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/health-information-exchange, or feel free to read our full report of the Consumer Innovation Challenge.